By michelle-lee The Afro News Ontario
Leo Campbell, 30, a social services worker from Brampton, Ontario led a delegation of 50 young people (18-34) who have roots in Jamaica to the Caribbean island for a week-long conference. Delegations from the U.S. and England, also 50 strong met them in Jamaica. All had been invited by the Jamaican government to attend a Diaspora Youth Conference. Campbell who came to Canada at age five, said, “We were basically there to say – how can we help?” Approximately 80 Jamaicans were also registered.
“Delegates paid their own airfare and promised to “get their hands dirty” in five parishes applying whatever skills they have – be they teachers, architects, lawyers, doctors, community workers”, said Campbell. Discussions included; ways to reduce the crime rates, how to start up businesses, how to increase skills among young people, etc.
In Toronto Jamaican Canadians are working with the police on exchange programs, in England the delegates bring experience and training with children’s aid societies and investigations of assault. Jamaican expatriates have helped support families back home for nearly 50 years ($2.2 billion (US) annually) according to Dr. Ronald Robinson, Jamaica’s Minister of Trade and Foreign Affairs. “The conference went one step further by sending time and talent, not just money”, said Campbell. The conference, held at the University of the West Indies, coincided with Independence Week, which celebrated Jamaica’s 47th year of Independence.